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tv   [untitled]    March 7, 2012 4:00pm-4:30pm EST

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and how we make decisions. he has a very effective use of a variety of c-span programs. and leo did a thorough job of researching his topic and presenting it very well. >> so where can people watch these documentaries and learn more about student cam if they want to get involved next year? >> right now you can go to our website, where you can find all kinds of information about the competition. but we've posted our 75 winning videos. so they're up there ready for you to view. in addition to that, each morning from april 1st through april 27th :00th at 6:50 a.m. eastern time we will be airing one of the top 27 winning documentaries. along with that at 9:15 a.m. eastern time you'll be able to see interviews with the students who created those documentaries. be sure to tune in to see those as well. >> british prime minister david cameron fielded questions on foreign policy from members of
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the british laison committee. this 30-minute portion of the hearing focused on syria and iran. >> order. order. welcome, prime minister. i thought at the beginning of today's session it would be right simply to record the recent death and pay tribute to the fact that it was he who carried through on the system in the house of commons. which most people regard as one of the most significant reforms that happened in the last couple years. >> i would absolutely agree with that. when i studied politics at school, i remember learning about these great reforms that he had put through in 1979. and it was very interesting coming here a decade or so after that and sitting on the select committee and seeing what an effect that had. i think it was one of those reforms that has really endured.
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it was a great honor for me. some advice from him. i'm glad he got to do that. an extraordinary politician. and someone who's left a real legacy in the system which i think has raised parliament's game according to executive account. >> thank you. the thought while i was here virtue for those reforms you were screaming madly. [ laughter ] turning to a very serious matter, we thought we would begin today by hearing the situation in syria. >> after you, prime minister. >> we're seeing bloodshed daily in syria. 6,000 people are reported to have been killed. and the cause for action grow. the main bar to this is the russians and chinese using the veto on the security council of
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the united nations. told the house yesterday in a phone conversation presuming to congratulate him on his election, but i did have a chance to talk about syria. and do you have any optimism that his attitude may change? >> well, i did discuss the issue of syria with president putin and with medvedev as well, yesterday. you're right. what's happening is absolutely appalling. the loss of life is appalling. the butchery being organized, ordered and carried out by this regime in my view is critical. and it was extremely disappointing that russia and china vetoed a resolution which would have helped. i raised the issue, i think that we do need to try and persuade the russians that i don't think we're going to agree about everything to do with the future for syria, but we have to
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persuade them that it is absolutely essential at the very least there's humanitarian access and we have a clear resolution about a stop to the violence. and there's no doubt that what everyone thinks of the russian position and i think they are absolutely wrong to take the position they did, they do have considerable influence in syria. but i think they can make a difference. i think they need to understand that what they've done is very bad for their reputation right across the arab world because the arab league is united in wanting to see that transition in syria, which is the best way to end the violence. >> did you get any bites from him that he might shift his attitude? >> i think these early days i didn't sense any sign of a shift, but the agreement was that our foreign ministers would talk and we would explore whether there was more that could be done to try and reach some common ground on this issue. let's be clear, britain is not going to give up what we believe is right about syria. we want to see humanitarian
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access. we want to see a transition that means that assad has got to go. we won't in turn change those things but if there is a way at the u.n. of getting a resolution that other countries can agree that at least would provide a condemnation of violence, proper humanitarian access, that would be progress. >> have a look at what we can do there. any statement on the sixth of february france secretary left open further support for the rebels. what exactly did you have in mind here? >> well, i think what would be welcome if there was a clearer establishment of who the syrian opposition are and a clearer sense that they are genuinely representative of a future for syria that would be democratic and open and tolerant of minorities and all the rest, i think if we compare with the situation in libya, i think the
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national transitional council did a good job of bringing opposition together and giving them someone to talk to and work with. i think in the syrian capital we now have a body we can see as a legitimate body. i think, frankly, there's more work we need to do to understand the difference and get them to come together to provide a united front so we can work with them. let's be clear, we have -- all of the european countries have an arms embargo applied to syria. i think there are a lot of things we can do to build diplomatic support for the syrian opposition. >> you mentioned the arms embargo. this is a general embargo on supply of weapons to syria. isn't there any way around this? this embargo is preventing us from arming the rebels of giving support. yet we know the russians are
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putting in a substantial number of references in support there for the assad regime. so we have the rebels fighting one hand behind their back here because of an embargo, which we are enforcing. >> well, i think we need to stand back for a second and ask ourselves what is the best path to end the violence in syria. and we discussed this at length at the national security council. i think the answer is the best path to peace for syria is a transition at the top of the regime with assad going. i think that the idea of transition at the top is actually possibly a better outcome -- a less bloody outcome from resolution at the bottom. those giving sucker to president assad somehow think him stay is not having him stay is a cause of instability and when revolution from the bottom helps to unseating. but i think in terms of enlding the bloodshed, getting a better
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outcome in syria, transition at the top is the best answer. >> but the foreign secretary said an answer to a question to me there's no limit to what resources we can provide -- talking about helping the rebels, we may be able to do more in the future. what does he -- >> there are stages in this. first of all as i've said it's important that the syrian opposition has become better organized. i think that has now happened. and i think the meeting of the friends of syria group has been helpful at encouraging that. there's then the supply of advice and information and help. there's then the supply of non-lethal equipment to help them. there's also the supply of humanitarian aid to make sure those people caught up in the fighting are helped. there are those steps that do not break anyway. an arms embargo in place that we're supportive. >> you're ruling out weapons at this point. >> the right approach is to bring together the international community to put diplomatic and political pressure on the regime to work with the opposition and to make sure they are a proper
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outward face as it were. and then to work out what more we can do to help them and pile the pressure on. i think we're at that stage rather than going further for the time being. >> thank you. moving onto what we might find. the british ambassador said yesterday he thought the regime would fall within the year. have we made any assessment of what we're going to find out when it does? and what sort of regime -- we seem to be reluctant to recognize the syrian national council. is there a reason for this? and would you like to comment on the fact that al qaeda is reportedly quite active with the syrian opposition. >> on the syrian national council we have said they are a legitimate for the syrian people. so we have made that step forward. and that's been with allies at the friends of syria meeting. but on the second point, on al qaeda. there is growing evidence that extremist elements want to get involved in syria.
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and there's some evidence that they may have gotten involved already. so there are clearly dangers there on that front. as i say, i think if we ask ourselves what is the quickest way to end the bloodshed and get to transition, it actually is for assad to go. in terms of what can britain do because it's immensely frustrating when you see the scale of bloodshed. i spoke to the photographer who was caught up and absolutely horrific story the details about what is happening and the amount of people who have been deliberately targeted. there weren't weapons in the buildings where these people were targeted. deliberately targeted and killed by this regime. it is immensely frustrating, but we shouldn't underestimate what we can do through pressure. pressure at the u.n., work with the opposition, all of these things. and i think it is ready to spend time on it people ask why did you act in libya but you're not acting in the same way with syria. i think we have to be frank that
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there are some important differenc differences. in libya there was a u.n. resolution authorizing, there was the arab league asking for force and there was the international consensus. and it was actually something as i put it not just necessarily legal and right but it was also achievable through the force we've had to put on the table. i think syria is different. we have to look at other methods to bring about the change thwha the world and syrian people all need to see. >> prime minister, can i ask you more about the rule of the arab league? you mentioned them just now. but they seem to be taking a somewhat more supportive view of the rebels. they have -- their foreign minister says anything greater than the right to defend one self and defend human rights and giving some arms to support the resistance.
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if that is the case, what would the british government do in the event arab league intervening that way? >> i think it is right to recognize that the arab league, they have a very legitimate interest and leadership role. and i think both the libyan case and this case show that when the world around the league to get into leadership, it's far likely to end up with a better outcome because arab people including in syria can see friends and their neighbors are supporting them and wanting to get rid of this illegitimate and criminal regime. i don't expect somehow where taking would track to the arab league. we want to work in lock step with them and that's why we have said the syrian national council is a legitimate representative of syrian operation. when they came up with their plan, we very much took that plan with them to the united
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nations and rolled it into a resolution. i think that was a way of trying to work with them to demonstrate this is the world working together with the arab league rather than western countries trying to tell syrians what to do. >> so we might follow them through? >> we might well do. but as i say, i think if you ask the question what is the best way to end the violence, it is transition at the top rather than bloody civil war that would be a better fast outcome for people in syria. but the point and i think the arab league feel this too, if those who are supporting assad, they will continue with the civil war causing so much pain and suffering. better transition at the top than revolution at the bottom. >> i think we all agree with that, but so far the mechanisms we've used haven't delivered results. >> that's absolutely correct. >> on the humanitarian front you've said it's awful. what we've seen is a situation
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for example with the sunday times journalist not just being killed but with her body not being able to get out for days. and when we do people getting in public executions in the street, i think we seem to be unable to intervene. there's two things here. what can we do when this is happening going on day in and day out to stop it? and at what point does the responsibility to protect kick in? and to what extent do we need to support the neighbors, lebanon and turkey, who are actually having to take the refugees that are fleeing when they can get out. >> well, the first thing to do is to make sure the resources are in place so the help is there and we have announced the money to provide for humanitarian aid. so there's no block on resources. we are always the first to put our foot forward in to help. the problem is getting the aid to the places where it needs to go. and the problem with that is that the syrian authorities are not allowing that to happen. so what we need to do is build up the maximum amount of
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pressure. that's why amos who runs that part of the u.n. is going again to the region to try and make sure that aid does get through. and that's why we're trying to right this u.n. security council and get russian and chinese support for that security council resolution to mandate that the aid has to get through. at the moment as i understand it the aid is still getting to places, you know, four kilometers away from homs and not getting to homs itself. in terms of the issue of the responsibility to protect, as i say, i want us to do more. i want us to be active in taking every step that we can to try and stop the slaughter. the reason i stopped short of the actually -- i understand you have to be clear that the circumstances are different. and in my position or in the position of the french president or the american president, we've got to be clear about knowing
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what our means can achieve and knowing we have everything necessary to achieve them before we start taking steps like that. >> so that even would apply for a temporary humanitarian cause, the problem we'd not even be able to get humanitarian relief never mind support? >> i think it may be possible to get a humanitarian pause via the u.n. security council resolution route. but whether it's pauses or corridors or safe zones, you can't open those things up unless you have the means to enforce them. going back to the example in libya. you know, those of us that wanted a no-fly zone and indeed a sort of no-attack zone so gadhafi couldn't murder his own citizens, we had to be prepared to take the step of taking out the libyan air defenses right across the country. we had to be prepared to use
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fairly overwhelming force to make possible the ends that we wanted to achieve on the ground. and we have to be clear in syria. but at the moment it's political pressure, sanction pressure, diplomatic pressure, u.n. pressure, it's all those pressures we should be building. i don't think we should rule out forever corridors, pauses, safe zones, we should examine all these things. but as we examine them we have to make sure we're prepared to will the means to achieve them rather than just declare them. >> when assad goes, he could be replaced by an extremist theocracy with sympathies toward al qaeda. >> i think it's very difficult to pause at what the future for syria will be. but when we have discussions in the national security council, i think the view coming as much from the expert community as anyone else it's actually hard to think of an alternative that
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would be much worse than assad himself. >> bring about change -- >> two questions as they are. one is is there one worse than the current one? it's quite difficult to think of that when you think of butchering of his own people. but also think of the support he has given to terrorist groups in the region. but the next question that follows from it is can he be sure someone else would stop the slaughters from taking place? i think that's why it's so important for the world to say to syria what's happening is unacceptable and assad has to go to stop violence against his own people. >> where would he go and how much of his crime would he take with him? >> i think first of all i don't want to see this person not held accountable for their crimes.
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i think that is very important. one of the reasons why we are actually sending people to the region is to document the human rights abuses, the war crimes, the dreadful things that are being done -- one of the quickest ways of getting it is an end to the regime and assad going. >> solution whereby they went into exile somewhere in return for a peaceful transition. is the price worth paying? >> an outcome that stops the slaughter and sees a peaceful future for syria is a better outcome than what we have now. and i think that's why the message i'm saying is to those people -- there are people who are supporting assad that think somehow clinging to him is somehow the future of syria. i think that's not the case. i think it's unthinkable this man can now run -- even if he
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stopped the slaughter could run -- so him going is very much part of the transition we need to see. >> returning to iran. a nuclear armed iran devastating consequences have been released. sanctions against iran, how do you measure the effectiveness of sanctions? i would say our policy has three parts. the first you say sanctions. they're pretty tough now now that there are eu oil sanctions against iran. something to be sniffed at. not something people would have thought possible perhaps a few years ago. the second leg is to say to the iranians if you stop pursuing a nuclear weapon, then there is a future through negotiations of
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having being a civilized part of the world. the third leg is that nothing is off the table. and it's difficult to say that because no one wants to see conflict in any way, but i think it's very important that the world sends a message to iran that nuclear arm future is not something that, you know, we want to see. so those are the three parts of our policy. to answer your question directly what effect they can have, i think they're beginning to have an economic effect. you can see that in what's happening inside iran. what's happening to its foreign exchange position. you can see it in terms of the fact it is scrambling around desperately trying to sell the oil it would have sold to european countries to others. i think the pressure now needs to turn given that europe's doing it a bit, convince the indians, the chinese and others not to buy the surplus oil that iran will be punting around the world. >> if the iranians continue
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their program, they're going to have to reach -- make a rather uncomfortable decision and reach the conclusion that sanctions aren't working. in that event, which to you is the least bad option, a nuclear armed iran or a military strike? >> they're both extremely bad outcomes. i think the foreign secretary put it that it would be a calamity of iran to have a nuclear weapon. but it would be calamitous to take action -- military action to prevent it. my point is that before we even get to that point, we should put the maximum amount of effort into the current approach of sanctions and pressure. it's a very simple point that the more pressure we pile on iran through sanctions, the tougher they can be, the more the pressure that can be applied, the greater the threat there is, the more they have an incentive of taking a different path. now, i can't tell you for certain whether that is going to work, but it's certainly the best option that we have. and as i said, i think it's ime pressive that actually the
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european union including countries like spain, greece and others that were importing quite a large quantity of iranian oil are going to quit doing that. maximize the pressure. i don't want to raise false hopes, but clearly the iranians have reacted by making a new offer of discussions and replied on behalf of the e 3 plus 3 to try and take these forward, i think have to be very clear that this is only acceptable if they are going to have civil nuclear power but no move to military nuclear power. that would be the best outcome. but the iranians have to make a big change in their strategic thinking. >> the iranians have been engaging in diplomatic talks for many, many years now and clearly hasn't come to anything. >> i think one of the reasons though is that the world has not been sufficiently united to send a clear message to the iranians
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this is what you need to do in order to convince us you want civil and not military nuclear. we've had that play around with the research reactor, talks in istanbul and the rest of it. i think there is a greater sense and you feel this when you go to the region that the world wants to send a very clear message about what is and what is not acceptable. so maximize the pressure and i think we should try and give that path some time to work. >> but if it doesn't work, could we live with a nuclear iran? >> i don't want to see that come about. so i don't believe in giving up on this track. we've been very clear about what we think today. today we think that military action against iran by israel would not be the right approach. we've said that both publicly and privately to the israelis. we think this track of sanctions and pressure has further to run. we think we should run as hard and as fast as we can to persuade the iranians to take it
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off the track. we don't take anything off the table. but let's maximize the pressure. >> last week the president obama confirmed that his policy was to prevent iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. and he confirmed he wouldn't hesitate to use force to implement this policy if necessary. i know we have already have units deployed in the gulf, but would we provide any logistical support to the americans or assistance in this event? >> that is not a decision that we have made. i think the american position is very clear. they say maximum pressure through sanctions, maximum pressure with the path of negotiations open. but they believe it is rightly unacceptable for iran to have a nuclear weapon. and they have made that clear. in terms of dispositions, we do have mine sweepers in the gulf part of international forces
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that believe it's important we keep sea lanes open and obviously work with our allies. we haven't made decisions about any military action. but clearly we would want to consider at least best to protect our interest and our own people. >> would you increase the number of units deployed in the gulf? >> that's not something we're contemplating at the moment. >> iran is a divided society. i mean, we even see that in terms of elections within the existing regime. there is a strong opposition even if it's been suppressed. so what do you think the effect in iran would be of an attack? the point i'm making is there a danger you have a situation at the moment where iranians who would like to see iran change, but if they were subject to an air attack, might well take a different view about how their country is being treated. >> i would rewind a bit and say are we doing enough today to communicate not just to the iranian government but also to the iranian people what the
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alternatives are. and i think perhaps we could do more. extremely popular and successful, but i think we need to communicate to people in iran that there is a peaceful civil nuclear future where iran can rejoin the community of nations. but in order to do that, it has to give up its -- its regime has to give up the idea of military nuclear power. but we have to do the right thing for our own national security. in a way that is what this comes back to. and to take richard's question, i don't believe that an iranian nuclear weapon is just a threat to israel. it clearly is because they've said they want to be part of efforts to wipe this country off the map. it's also clearly very dangerous for the region because it would trigger a nuclear arms race. but also it is a danger more
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boldly not least because there are signs that the iranians want to have some sort of intercontinental missile capability. so we have to be clear this is potentially a threat much more wider if i can put it that way than just israel and the region. >> if president obama and prime minister both rule out no option to prevent iran from actually developing a nuclear weapon, what's our position -- >> just to be clear, as i said, three parts to our position. sanctions, offer and negotiations if the iranians insist and not taking anything off the table including military action. that's been the british government position for some time. i think it's the right position. i hope i've explained what i hope will be the outcome, but we have to be very clear nothing is off the table. >> my question is what consideration's been given to the likely impact of a strike not the least pakistan but what the implications would be for the united kingdom security. >> that's the whole point of the
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united kingdom security. you have to consider all of the elements both foreign, international, domestic, security, of any course of action. and that is obviously exactly what we'd have to do. that's one of the reasons we brought the national security council to being. and for instance that's why we've had such a focus on somalia. when you think in national security terms, you're driven towards those things that both make a difference to a safe every world but also a safer britain. >> there is evidence that sanctions against iran are beginning to work. the rial dropped by 40% in the last few months. unemployment's reached 26%. isn't there every reason to continue a moment to see whether those sanctions will have an effect? and isn't there every reason to negotiate that the u.n.


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